Some things are more important than football.

Sometimes I get the distinct feeling that football isn’t real at all – but is just made up.

I mean, we have got through to the quarter final of the Euro Cup – which is further than our recent rivals Chelsea and Liverpool, and the same as Manchester United.

We went out when playing a reserve team, against what is considered by many to be the best side in the world, with the best player in the world on top form.   The player in our team who can score four in a game (Arshavin) was out injured, with many of our other stars.  We went down 6-3 over two games – not the result I wanted, but not so bad that I have to put my head in a bucket or call for the manager’s resignation.

At the end of the matches the Manchester United manager was left issuing almost racist commentaries (“typical Germans” etc) while we handled the match with dignity.  Their top players were all our there doing their stuff.  Ours were not.  These things all add to the contrast.

(I say “almost racist”, because as I understand the law in the UK, it is not racist to comment on a person’s nationality in a demeaning manner, but it is to comment on their race outside their nationality.  I might be wrong on this).  Either way it is not very pleasant but it is endemic in football.   “Like all Spaniards he is lazy” was one I heard recently from a BBC summarizer.

Meanwhile in the league we are within 3 points of the other two clubs, and still fighting for top spot.  I think we are on an 8 game run in the league in which we have won 7 and drawn 1.

In terms of our three years of persistent injuries, were are now even catering with that, and I think this summer will see two big name signings and, as I pointed out the other day, four or five players moving up to being first team options, rather than squad players.   That’s what comes from having a squad of youngsters – they get better each year.

But this is not enough for some and I have to say I really don’t get it, simply because I can’t get inside their heads.

Maybe some are like the people who go for the 419 scams – the ones that say, hello I have been given $24 billion to get out of Nigeria and if I can just have your bank details you could help me move the money and take your 10% cut.

Maybe their view is that there really is a way of picking up £2 billion just by giving someone your bank details.  If so, I don’t really get it.  If this approach worked in football then Chelsea would have won the league every year.  They didn’t – football is more complex than that.

I say this because there seems to be a lack of linked up logic in the arguments that look at this season and say, “It’s not good enough”.  It is as if reality has somehow dropped through a whole in the floor and there is a belief that no matter how much other clubs are willing to bankrupt themselves in the short term, or put themselves in positions where Uefa will say, you can’t have a licence to play in the Champ League, that we ought to win the League without breaking sweat.

It is as one is walking down the street and sees a crook who has just stolen 100 million pounds, and one says, “I am a failure because I don’t have all that money”.  No, the fact is that you are an honest citizen and the crook is not.

The simple facts are

a) that most of the EPL clubs will not qualify under the new regs to be allowed in the Champ League

b) that most clubs are not sustainable, and will eventually go bust if they can’t find a big time buyer

c) that the experience of Liverpool and Man U where the fans have turned against the owners shows other prospective owners that maybe buying football teams isn’t all sweetness and light.  I certainly think that this is putting off new buyers.

d) that there is no guarantee that with all the money in the world you can buy the top spot in any competition.

e) that the financial madness has now visited Spain, where most of the clubs are in trouble.

Let’s consider Man U just for a moment. Clearly the year on year triumph that Sir Alex F Word wants to see is not going according to plan.  The sale of their top player last year without all that money being available for further transfers was a surprise to some, but predicted by others.

The fact is that the club needs new players but does not have them coming up through the ranks and the owners are not releasing new funds to buy – hence the manager’s comments about players being overpriced, and there being no real new talent out there.

All we have to do is keep going and we will be sailing ahead of the rest of the pack because we have not joined the crooks and the con men.

Last night my eldest daughter Catherine gave birth to my fifth grandchild, Imogen Alice.   Even if I couldn’t make an argument such as the one in this article, I’d still feel a lovely warm glow inside.  The fact that I can means I can feel wonderful about my children and my grandchildren, and rather good about the lesser matter of my football club.

All in all what I am trying to say is, don’t lose your sense of perspective whether you are thinking about football, or life or family or anything else.
Tony Attwood

31 Replies to “Some things are more important than football.”

  1. Congratulations Tony and also to your daughter even if she doesn’t know me. Hope both mother and child are in good health as this is the most important thing in life.

  2. wenger himself a fan, all these are resultants of dutch total football from 70’s which coincidides with their discriminalisation of pot. think about hazy locker rooms at half time. but also makes me wonder : how else can we achieve the harmony needed for victory?

    a new home ground will take 5-10 years to build up the spirit,right now,big teams come to emirates and get 5 star hotel spa treatment then go out the field and see kids.. yet this squad is in thick of the action and the bank balance. supporters cannot ask for much more, should perhaps do a demonstration of black/white scarfs against corruption. but where is our own mafia when needed? gunners should be ones banging not go out in a bang.

  3. And well you mentioned it in your article : I really can not understand why Utd complain about the red card. He should have been sent off in the first half with a straight red card after his kick without the ball. They can only be lucky that the ref was mild on that occasion, very mild indeed. Otherwise I think they would even have lost the game.

  4. I totally agree with most things you say here.

    Considering our injury concerns, we have equaled United & bettered both Chelsea & Liverpool as far as continental honors go.

    If it isn’t already clear to the barrage of anti-Arsenal critics out there, a mere look at the league table suggests, we are still in the title race, despite being twice considered out of the reckoning.

    We play the game the way it is meant to be, ‘beautifully’ ie, we don’t ‘buy’ success like others do. Hell, Chelsea found it hard to finish top-4 before Roman donated his oil-smacked cash to the Blues. They had not tasted league glory for 50 years before that.

    Liverpool, 20 years since their last league triumph, need I say more!?

    United, one-man team, I bet my life, if Shrek was out for as long as RvP, they’d be fighting with fellow-‘City’ rivals for a top-4 finish themselves.

    Bring in the finance picture, & the new UEFA norms for Champion’s league et al, a season or two down the line, & I can clearly see Arsenal dominating football all over again.

    I don’t care what people have to say, it is MY Arsenal, & they have done enough for ME to chant at the top of my voice: ~Proud to be a Gooner~

    Go Gunners..

    Read on to re-live the ‘Arsenal’ spirit:

  5. There was this monkey around where I was sat for the Barcelona game, going on and on about how it wasn’t good enough, Wenger is a C U next tuesday, Wenger has to stop using injuries as an excuse. Not for one second did he join in the chorus or cheers for the team. He didn’t even celebrate the Bendtner goal. He didn’t celebrate our goal but he was quick to have a go at Wenger after we conceded saying the keeper is poo, and the team can’t defend.

    I had had just about enough when he had a go at some young lads who sang their heart out the whole game. At the end of the game, they started; “Arsenal till I die”. And he just started ranting at them saying they were demented or something. I figure the youngsters knew him already.

    At the end of the game, I said; you didn’t cheer at all today? He said he hadn’t cheered in years. I said; but you came all the way?

    He said, yes that’s because I love the Arsenal.

    He then went on a long diatribe about how Arsenal will never win anything with Wenger, and we will never be good enough. We pay so much money, most expensive ticket in football, to see clowns etc… You know the whole story.

    It’s not rational. They are not rational. It’s not about football. They don’t like, talkless of love football. But I’m deeply at a loss what these people are about…

  6. Well said, Tony.. I really don’t understand the negative vibes from the so-called Arsenal fans after we lose even against better teams.. I too don’t like us to lose but I would be proud of the boys if they gave 110% on the pitch. On tuesday night, I was even more proud of our boys when they were fighting against all odds. The score line should have been Messi 4 and not Barcelona 4. He was the difference and our boys did a wonderful job of keeping others quiet.

    Our manager and the players are proper sports men who recognise when opponents beat us fair and square. We accepted that Barca played better than Us. ManU lacks that because they believe they cant lose and if they lose, it because of somebody else. Never because of them. Alex F is very good at this and because of this they get lots of decisions in their favour.

    By the way, Congratulations and Good health for both Mother and Daughter. Nothing feels better than when you have a new addition to your family.

  7. I agree, there are more important things in life than football (although after family i cant think of many!), but we are in a time of instant gratification, and 4+ trophy-less seasons is hard to take. Yes we will have a team of very very good home grown talent, but i stil feel with-out Mr Wenger signing a long..long term contract no other manager could manage our team of youngsters. I hope (and believe) Wenger will secure his long term future at arsenal again and bring in 2-3 experienced players to compliment our youngsters. Just like last season, we are close to great things, but un-like last season we have to buy experience/quality in the close season.
    p.s my biast opinion on the barca game…one man (messi) and a terrible official (ref), and that result could have been very different. I dont wanna say we should have taken messi out early (as that would make us as bad as the premiership teams that have done that to us all season), but you cant give a..drogba, rooney or Mr Messi that kind of space and time with-out punishment!!! come on gunners lets learn another lesson and come back stronger than ever next season!!!

  8. I dont agree with calling the side we put out a “reserve team”. We were missing the “spine” of our side, and many of those playing wouldnt be automatic starters normally, but they were all clear 1st team squad members. I understand what you mean, and you’re trying to be say how we didnt disappoint given the circumstances but I still dont thinkyou should be framing it quite like that. It just looks weak.
    On the fergie comments, its not racist at all, but it is xenophobic. Xenophobia is pretty-much acceptable in this country. I agree it’s abhorrent, but it’s an unfortunate bi-product of patriotism in most cases – a tool for the politicians and the media in general.
    We have gotten to the stage where ferguson can pretty much say anything and get away with it unchallenged.
    I was more annoyed by their complaining about the decisions to be honest. They benefitted from practically every 50-50 decision during the match, and rafael did clearly pull back ribery, and both bookings were well-deserved. They have no right to complain.
    They do this every time they lose a big game. Against chelsea in the first match, evans completely got away with blatantly kicking drogba in the ribs -the worst case of assault Ive seen all season in the PL- but STILL they had the balls to come out and say they were “losing faith” in the referees because the ref called a foul for the free-kick they ended up conceding from (which was hardly an outrageous call).
    And we’ve all heard their “whining” following their defeat to chelsea last week.
    The question is: Why are they not called on their whining??? Why are they allowed to say anything they want to the media without question???
    And why is it completely the opposite for arsene wenger, for whom they can turn the most beneign comments into a “Wenger slams…” article. Its just disgusting.

  9. The kids played brilliantly in contrast to the first leg. Wenger definitely had them closing down alot better. The problem came after we scored. I must admit i was screaming like a madman at the D&G step father i have… Of course i knew it was a long game but i had hope. You could tell after we scored they lost that defensive resolve. They didnt have the discipline to keep their heads on defense. They were victims of their youth. After scoring one they want another, not a bad trait considering diaby picked out the wrong pass but whatever the case we lost to arguably the best team in the world and best player in the world. There’s no shame in that. Lets hope that Barcelona win it all so that we can atleast claim we lost to the champions =/. Still broken over the loss but my love superceedes the disappointment

  10. Though I am hopeful I am not as confident as many about the upcoming games and I could easily imagine us dropping points with the players we have missing. The only thing that really bothers me about that is the cacophony of gloom will raise to a crescendo of sanctimonious finger pointing, scapegoating and general wailing and gnashing of teeth.

    Should we drop points at Spurs for example (worst case scenario) it will scarcely be worth turning the internet on.

    I peeked at le Grove today – brrrrrrrr. The troops are being mobilise, that’s all I am saying.

    Congrats on the new addition Tony.

  11. On the Guardian site today – confirmation that Van Persie is back in training (you heard it here first) and Djourou is about to join in too.

  12. Congratulations Tony.I will wet the babys head later……….cheers and God bless.

  13. cant believe all the gooners are still supporting le miser…as the transfer window opens he will again say that all the injured players are back so no need to buy…

    next year arsenal goes to the quarters of CL and finishes 2nd or third and he will say “ze team is still very young”…have been listening to the same reasons again and again and again…its about wengers pride…he is on a mission to prove that developing young players only is the idealistic way to run a club….but m sorry it is not…there should be a mix of young players coming through the ranks and the stars who stand up to the occasion and balance the team…we dont have that balance…

    apart from that cant believe we expected to win a CL and hope to win the PL with the nincompoop like almunia as a goalie and a third rate back silvest…there is no back up at all…

    I know many of you wont like the bitter truth..and would counter comment that i m not a true fan…but tell you what i will support arsenal till the day i die….wenger’s time is up…too many excuses and too many fukups…


  14. “The fact is that the club needs new players but does not have them coming up through the ranks and the owners are not releasing new funds to buy – hence the manager’s comments about players being overpriced, and there being no real new talent out there.”

    Ferguson should tell this to Inter fans but oh wait… Balotelli and Santon will make it look a foolish comment.
    Ferguson should tell this to CSKA fans but oh wait… their summer’s no. 1 target Akinfeev will make it look a foolish comment.
    Ferguson should tell this to Bayern fans but oh wait… Muller and Kroos will make it look a foolish comment.
    Ferguson should tell this to Lyon fans but oh wait… Govou, Clerc and buying a whole new team thanks to Benzema will make it look a foolish comment.
    Ferguson should tell this to Bordeaux fans but oh wait… they are rumoured to have some of the best young French players coming through, including Saivet and… Ronaldo successor #2 Obertan, will make it look a foolish comment.
    Ferguson should tell this to Arsenal fans but oh wait… Wilshere and Gibbs will make it look a foolish comment.
    Ferguson should tell this to Barca fans but oh wait… their entire side will make it look a foolish comment.

    The sooner teams realise that focusing on youth development not only brings dividends in how cheap it is, limitless potential of players taught the game correctly and securing local spirit… the quicker the game will get to being at its full viewing potential.

    Congrats on the babby by the way. Hope its all healthy.

  15. You are spot on, Tony. I think some so called Arsenal supporters are either deluded or are in fact, Tottenham fans in disguise! Or else how can one explain the dross written by Myles Palmer about Arsenal only being a top 8 team!I sometime get the impression that characters like Myles are happy for Arsenal to fail. The future of our club is bright whilst i would be worried if i was a United or Liverpool supporter.

    You are also right that SAF’s comment [which is typically graceless}borders on racism. Section 28 of the Crime & Disorder Act 1998 provides for the meaning of “racially aggravated” as ” (1) An offence is racially aggravated for the purposes of sections 29 to 32 below if—
    (a) at the time of committing the offence, or immediately before or after doing so, the offender demonstrates towards the victim of the offence hostility based on the victim’s membership (or presumed membership) of a racial group; or
    (b) the offence is motivated (wholly or partly) by hostility towards members of a racial group based on their membership of that group.
    (2) In subsection (1)(a) above—
    “membership”, in relation to a racial group, includes association with members of that group;
    “presumed” means presumed by the offender.
    (3) It is immaterial for the purposes of paragraph (a) or (b) of subsection (1) above whether or not the offender’s hostility is also based, to any extent, on—
    (a) the fact or presumption that any person or group of persons belongs to any religious group; or
    (b) any other factor not mentioned in that paragraph.
    (4) In this section “racial group” means a group of persons defined by reference to race, colour, nationality (including citizenship) or ethnic or national origins.’

    SAF ‘typical German’ comment in the circumstances was calculated to imply that Germans are wont to behave in loutish manner that would put pressure on a referee. This, in my opinion, is racist.

    But then, as a Nigerian, your reference to scam emails emanating from Nigeria is also wrong. How do you ascertain the provenance of such emails? Anyway, congrats on the birth of your grandson!

  16. @amit
    one more season, and if he still can’t deliver, he must go.

    LE GROVE had a point arsenal are 1/10 in big games(i really can’t remember the 1) against utd chelsea and barca.

  17. wenger press conference was a disgrace after birmingham.

    they all are bad losers that’s why they are gr8.

  18. chelsea had inter, if arsenal wud have got it we wud hav not reached quarters.

  19. Yes – it is unsurprising that the doom and gloomers are back out in force. Sad, but unsurprising. There are people commenting above saying things like “next year arsenal goes to the quarters of CL and finishes 2nd or third…..wenger’s time is up…too many excuses and too many fukups…”. Huh???????????? I mean, I really cannot understand that. So 2nd or 3rd in the League is a screw-up? How on earth did that happen???? What silly ridiculous fantasy land do these people live in???? When did 2nd or 3rd in the League become a disasterous season? From 1953 until 1996 (the season before AW arrived) we finished 3rd or better 6 times in 43 years. 6 TIMES IN 43 YEARS. Now since AW has arrived we have finished 3rd or better 10 times in 13 seasons (looking to make it 11 times in 14 seasons this year) with no worse a finish than 4th (we finished 4th 7 times in those 43 years as well) and yet he is a screw-up? HOW DID THAT HAPPEN???? WHAT SILLY RIDICULOUS FANTASY LAND DO THESE PEOPLE LIVE IN????

    The only clubs we have finished behind in the past 5 years are clubs which have spent far, far, far more money than us. In all cases, those clubs are now deep in debt or no longer able to spend such sums of money. Meanwhile we are growing stronger year after year. And yet AW is a failure and should be sacked? HOW DID THAT HAPPEN???? WHAT SILLY RIDICULOUS FANTASY LAND DO THESE PEOPLE LIVE IN????

    I just love it when people like Amit above say that they are saying the “truth”!!!! My goodness, if the “truth” is ever like these people say it is then it is time for me to stop supporting Arsenal Football Club. Luckily people like that have absolutely no comprehension of the truth, so I can rest easy for now knowing that I can still support our great club.

    Oh well, it takes all kinds.

  20. Ah yes well, the Nigerian emails. I suppose I am influenced by the fact that there is a code within the Nigerian legal system (or so I am told by SC Magazine which I rely on in such matters) that specifically outlaws such emails, and (again I am told) they are known after the number of this code in the legal system).

    That is the extent of my knowledge, and if I am wrong and have insulted your country, I really am sorry. I do actually try in everything i write to be balanced in all matters apart from my affection for Arsenal, but of course information picked up elsewhere seeps in.

  21. Amit, I will never argue that I always put things particularly well, but when you say..

    he will again say that all the injured players are back so no need to buy…

    and base your argument on that, you are ignoring the key point of recent posts on this site.

    a) We have a good squad of players who are mostly quite young
    b) We have had a high number of injuries- although we cannot rule out the possibility that we will have that number again
    c) We will sign a couple of players in the summer – as has already been highlighted on this site
    d) We have several fringe players who are getting very close to the breakthrough so that when we come on we will be as confident in them as we are in the regulars
    e) We have a plethora of players coming through to take their places
    f) Numerous EPL teams will not be able to meet the Champs League regs over finances and so will have to change their approach. Since we are already doing it properly we will face no disruption – they will face major disruption.

    Now one or two of those points may fall by the wayside, but I am trying to put together six reasons why I think Arsenal will continue to improve next season. You could at least address some of those points in your argument rather than making straight statements to the effect that I am wrong.

    PS: Thank you to everyone for the good wishes vis a vis the birth of Imogen – which is indeed an unusual name but not unknown in England. All is fine.

  22. About Ferguson saying “typical German’ I would like to point out that the players involved in appealing to the ref were Ribery who is Frenc as far as I know and Van Bommel who is Dutch as far as I know. Now let’s say that another player appealed for a card and let’s suppose he was German, but he could have been Serb or from Belgium or from Argentina, that still not makes it “typical German”.
    From a team that has a history in surroundings refs in the past this is a real dumb thing to say from Ferguson.

  23. walter,

    Do you think Ferguson would know the difference? They’re not British. That much he could tell.

  24. Ole,
    Well if he had the same brains as the young guys we met some 30 years ago I think he does not know.

    In fact this was the only time I had a somewhat bad feeling when I have been in London (and I have been a lot in London).
    It was the monday after our first game at Highbury when we were in London with our school and we decided to go to see Crystal Palace who was playing in the FA cup (Arsenal went that evening to Nottingham Forrest and won 0-1 and went on to win the FA cup that year). Palace lost 0-1 to Wolves (like Arsenal) and we went back to London with the bus (most people very kind telling us which bus to take to go back to Oxford Street – really very nice) but on one of the busses there was a group of young Palace fans who heard us talking and were not in a good mood afther the loss.
    Now I must say that when we speek Dutch it could sound like German a bit. As we were in good mood: we had seen a nice and entertaining game and were on a school holiday, we laughed and joked with each other. And suddenly they came to us in a rather threatning way and started shouting at us : “We won the war” and other things like “we could better f**k up” and well you know. At first we didn’t get what they were talking about : “a war ?” . Was there a war going on since leaving Belgium ? And then they started calling names like “nazi’s” and I think you know the names ssome people still give to German people over there. And then we knew they were taking us for Germans.

    As we said that we were from Belgium and had nothing to do with Germany they said that it was all the same and that we were all the same and we best schut it up as they would spank us again like they had done in the war. As they had the same age as we I really don’t think they had spanked anyone during the second world war. 😉

    I really think we have met the best of the best that evening. Must say that was the only time in my life I (and the rest) felt a bit uncomfortable in London. Those things can happen anywhere.

    So I think that we can put Ferguson in the same category as those young guys who didn’t know any better I think. From someone who is a Sir, one should expect better I think.

  25. In just want to let you know that I can swear on the head of my children that the wrong spelling of the word “SSome” is really a typing error.
    I shall use the words of Captain Bertorelli : “Whata mistaike to maike” 😉

  26. Congratulations on your brand new grandchild, Tony! May she live long and prosper, and may she have a very happy and fulfilled life!

  27. @Tony,
    On Holiday in Florida so been out of the loop…. Congrats on your latest granddaughter Take this time to count your latest blessing… Life is what we optimists make it! It sounds like you are doing the best with the gifts given to you!

    It is the point with Arsene…. We are so lucky as Arsenal Fans to see what has unfolded since his arrival in 1997… But, bloggers who cannot even see blessings from doom will continue to do so… So continue to inspire me! For this site is a blessing to!

  28. Paul C: I agree with you 100%. My son, a teenager in High School is a MANU fan (the only one out of 3sons and me). Last year, he voiced his support for the Arsenal fans who wanted to get rid of AW for having not won anything in 4 or 5years.

    Since he is my son and a teenager in school, I am obliged that he develops the right values and perspective. So, I asked him if he would consider me a fair dad if I insisted he had to come first in his class every school year? We both agreed that unless he is an exceptionally gifted child, that would be too much to ask for – year-in, year out. After all, there are other equally bright students in the class and keen competitors too – ready to study very hard, do every assignment and give their very best in every test and exams…

    So we both agreed that the best I could ask for was that he applied himself very diligently every school year and compete with his mates as vigorously as possible and observing all the legal bounds thereby assuring me that he can rank amongst the top 10% in his class every year.

    We agreed that the years he comes first will be landmark years, worthy of great celebrations but if he kept in the top 10% every year it would be fair to still regard him among the best in the school – qualifying him for our respect, accolades and celebrations still.

    I am sure EPL is different in many respects from high school academia but the values and outlook to life that “you cannot have it all – all the time” is one that is worth reminding ourselves – even as football fans.

    Having said that I think AW and Arsenal are at a crossroad. If they have Barcelona as a marker for good and winning football then playing them have shown how far along the road they still need to progress. More so, now that the stadium is built and fills up game after game; and the debt is down; and a core of 6-7 great players have emerged. I believe the time is right for AW to begin to do as he was doing in the 1990s glory years rigorously i.e. to compliment his assembly-line of emerging great players with 3-4 great 22 – 26year olds every year such that the team is well-rounded in every area, and that every position in the team is competitive and the team as a whole is well equipped to last the annual marathon competitions for cups… That is, ensuring that we improve in our weak areas year on year.

  29. Fem Dee, great reaction.

    And must say that my sons are all 3 Arsenal fans so I am a bit more lucky in this. Well but you can’t throw him out of the house for being a MU fan.. or can you ? 😉

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